[env-trinity] AP July 22 1009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Jul 22 15:20:15 PDT 2009


-must-think-small-to-save-water-.html>  Farmers must think small to save





Written by TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer    

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 09:16 

sprinkler(AP) - By investing in water-saving technology, California's
drought-burdened farmers could save enough water annually to fill four times
over a reservoir Gov. Schwarzenegger supports building, according to a
report released Wednesday. 

The study by the nonprofit Pacific Institute urges regulatory agencies and
lawmakers to focus on farm investments rather than large infrastructure
projects such as the Temperance Flat Reservoir. Those could ensure more
reliable water supplies as a warming planet increases the length and
frequency of droughts, the report suggested.

"We need to start thinking of investing in these efficiency improvements,"
said lead author Heather Cooley. "That's what will give the biggest bang for
the buck."

As California suffers its third year of drought and critical fish species
decline in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary, reductions in pumping
to farmers and municipal users have some clamoring for new reservoirs and
canal systems to protect the state's $39 billion agriculture industry.

"This is one of the pieces that needs to be dealt with as we look at our
water future, but it's not the piece that's going to save us," said Doug
Mosebar, president of the California Farm Bureau. "We need water storage,
conservation and desalination."

The report said water-intensive flood irrigation has certainly declined
since 2001, when 60 percent of farmers used it, but the method still is
widely used in some areas.

>From 2003 to 2005, San Joaquin Valley farmers spent $1.5 billion on
water-saving technology, Mosebar said.

Many farmers with historic water rights have no incentive to conserve, the
report said, because they get their full allocation of canal water every
year no matter the weather conditions, while others get none.

The report said water contracts should be renegotiated to reflect the new
reality of a dwindling supply.

"This sounds like the Mother Teresa approach," said Shawn Coburn, a farmer
who helped found the Latino Water Coalition. "These guys are living in a
fantasy world. When you're talking about reappropriating water rights,
you're messing with the value of property and it's enormous. It's Socialism

The new report suggests that farmers who conserve should be rewarded with
lower water rates, while large users should pay more, like the two-tiered
systems that exist in many municipal water districts. The money raised could
pay for conversion to drip and other water-saving systems.

The report said the government could encourage switching to expensive water
conservation systems by offering reduced property taxes or a waiver of sales
taxes for equipment purchases.

Some changes, the report said, will be more difficult to make, such devising
a system that allows farmers to receive water deliveries from canals when
their crops need it, not simply when the district schedules them to take it.

"We need to move beyond the status quo, because it's clearly not working for
farmers," Cooley said.



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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